What Should I Consider When Buying Folding Chairs?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

If you find yourself in charge of providing folding chairs for a one-off event such as an outdoor wedding or family reunion, you may not have to buy them at all. The standard aluminum versions can be quite an investment, so it may be better to contact local rental centers or catering services to rent your chairs. Make sure they are in acceptable shape and appropriate for the event, however. If food is to be served, an easy to clean plastic surface may be preferable to aluminum. If you're not going to use them long-term renting might make more sense than buying.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

If you are shopping for individual folding chairs for personal use, you'll want to consider durability and portability. For general purposes, canvas chairs are very popular. They are often sold along with carrying cases in the sporting goods sections of department stores. They have largely replaced the old aluminum folding chairs with polyester strapping.

If you are seeking solid chairs for outdoor events, collapsible canvas models may be a sound investment. Look for different colors of canvas to help distinguish ownership at the event. Pay attention to the maximum weight capacity, however, as these chairs can collapse unexpectedly if the stress becomes too great.

Buying folding chairs in bulk for a family life center or public meeting hall can be a little more challenging. One thing to consider is attrition rates. A certain percentage of the chairs are eventually going to break or become unusable through neglect.

Higher grade plastic folding chairs may be more expensive at first, but they can also be maintained and cleaned more easily than less expensive aluminum chairs. You can also considered chairs that can be stacked. You may need to invest in a few carrying racks for easier storage and portability.

Quality folding chairs should have smooth working mechanisms and provide a sense of security. Never buy used chairs without first inspecting each one for damage, as even the best ones can become loose at the hinges or bent after years of use.

Whenever an organization decides to upgrade their own folding chairs, an opportunity opens up for others to acquire their older inventory. When searching for a bargain, keep your ears open to such sales. Otherwise, it might be best to buy new folding chairs whenever possible. You may be able to purchase a package set of folding tables and chairs for a better price. When dealing with private sellers, it pays to haggle.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


If you buy folding chairs for outdoor use, what is the best and easiest way to keep them clean?

I find with exposure to the sun and rain that they start looking dingy pretty quickly. I don't have any storage space for them, so they have to stay outside.

Also, if any of the folding chairs have flaking plastic, is it easy to refinish them? I don't want to have to buy a new set and was wondering what kind of paint I could use on plastic and what process I would need to follow to get them looking new again.


Getting a portable folding chair that collapses is a great thing to bring for fireworks displays and outdoor concerts.

I find that getting a fabric one that can slip into a carrying bag is convenient and a bit more stylish than a chunky folding lawn chair.

Also, with the older folding lawn chairs, you are also faced with the problem of accidentally hitting people with your chair when you struggle by because they are so big. With the portable folding chairs made of fabric, you can move easily as they are secured to your back and they are very small.

Fabric folding chairs are not too expensive either. I paid $20USD for mine on sale.

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